In a world of fully automatic coffee machines, many still prefer manual preparation because the equipment required is cheaper, easier to use, and does not require expert cleaning or maintenance. Each of these manual preparation methods works perfectly differently and produces a completely different brew. Each has strengths and weaknesses.
At first glance, these two coffee machines may appear similar. The AeroPress and the French Press consist of a brewing chamber and a plunging mechanism. But when you get details about their to work, there is a huge difference here.
The most important thing to know is that all of these methods require the same accessories. Manual brewing methods require heated water in a kettle and an even grind from a burr grinder.
These two investments will cover all your manual brewing needs regardless of which method you choose. Aeropress and French Press are two of the most popular manual coffee makers and while their names sound a little similar, they use different brewing methods.
Let’s see how these devices work so you can decide which one is best for you.
What is Aeropress?
An AeroPress is a coffee brewing device invented in 2005 by Alan Adler. The Aeropress consists of a brewing chamber, a filter attachment, and a plunger. One of the cylinders has a flexible airtight seal (the plunger) which is fitted in another larger cylinder (brewing chamber), thus resembling the structure of a syringe.
The device rests on your cup and uses a paper filter just like a pour-over. However, it works by steeping coffee and then pressing down a plunger, similar to a french press. The result is a clean-tasting coffee with a surprising amount of nuance to the flavor.
The Aeropress is easily the most versatile gadget on this list. You control the coffee grind, coffee to water ratio, extraction time, and pressure. The design of the Aeropress supports large variations in each of these parameters. This leads to all sorts of various kinds of drinks including regular coffee, americano style coffee, and coffee concentrate (very similar to espresso).
What is French Press?
French presses have been adorning countertops in some form or another since the 1920s. The most common designs have a glass carafe and a metal mesh filter, but you might also see stainless steel or ceramic versions.
The french press consists of a brewing vessel and a mesh filter attached to a plunger. French presses come in all different shapes and sizes and can be made from glass, stoneware, or stainless steel. The french press only makes one type of hot coffee (with a very recognizable texture), but you can also use a french press for a cold brew as well as tea.
Every keen coffee drinker must be familiar with French Press brewing. A French Press is a tall carafe with a metal filter that allows flavorful fragments and aromatic oils from the coffee to pass through and into your mug.
As the name suggests, this brewing method also involves hand pressing. You just add your grounds and water, let steep for a couple of minutes, press down with your hand, pour and enjoy a cup.
The only difference here is that you might find some wandering particles that have slipped through the metal mesh and ended at the bottom of your cup.
Aeropress – Procedure
The traditional method of brewing with AeroPress is pretty intuitive. It involves the following steps:
- Place the device on top of your coffee cup
- Rinse the filter with hot water
- Put the coffee grounds in the filter
- Pour hot water and let the grounds steep in it for a few moments
- Gently press the plunger to get your coffee pouring into your cup
- There is also the inverted method, which is a bit tricky and requires some practice. Some users prefer it as it allows the grounds to steep in the hot water, making the brew a bit similar to the one prepared with a French Press.
- Start by inserting the plunger into the larger cylinder
- Remove the filter from what is now the top of the device
- Add coffee grounds and hot water and stir a bit
- Let the grounds steep for a couple of minutes
- Rinse the filter with hot water
- Place your coffeecup upside-down on top
- Flip the entire set-up in one quick motion and push the plunger.
As you can well imagine, the flipping motion is the tricky part and you can make quite a mess in your kitchen. However, many say this technique will give you a darker smoother brew.
French Press – Procedure
The basic method is of the “set-and-forget” type as you don’t have to worry about a thing. Once you put the water and the coffee grounds you can leave the carafe on the table or in the fridge and just let it brew. What you have to do is:
- Preheat the glass carafe with hot water while you grind your beans
- Dump the first water
- Add the required amount of coffee grounds
- Slowly pour a little hot water over the grounds making sure they’re completely submerged
- Let the grounds bloom for 30 seconds and watch them expand as they soak up water
- Fill the carafe with the rest of the water and let it brew
- Wait for at least four minutes before you push the plunger
The best brewing ratio for the French Press is 15 parts water to one part coffee, but you can experiment with more or less coffee till you come up with the perfect brew for you.
Beginners can start with a 12 to 1 ratio that would be around 1oz of coffee for 12 oz of water and work your way by adding more beans till you reach the intensity you prefer.
Which One Is Easy To Use?
Once you’re acquainted with AeroPress, it’s simple to get good coffee time after time. It also has to be the easiest clean-up of any coffee brewer. But if you’re using AeroPress for the first time, you’re going to need to read the instructions.
The French press has far fewer steps from start to finish, and there are only two parts to the brewer:
- The beaker
- The plunger
But it does take a bit of trial and error to come up with a great coffee. While it might take a bit of practice to get the perfect brew, the process is much more intuitive than using an AeroPress.
French Press – Brew Time
- Place a paper filter into the cap of the Aeropress, and add some water, enough to make it wet.
- Assemble it.
- Add the finely ground coffee to it (about 15 grams per cup), and pour twice the amount of boiling water over.
- For 15 grams of grounds, add about 7 ounces of hot water.
- For the most precise results, use a kitchen scale. Let the coffee sit for 30-50 minutes, stir, fasten the cap, place atop your cup, press with your hand, and enjoy!
Aeropress – Brew Time
- Add your coarsely ground coffee to the French Press.
- Pour boiling water over the grounds.
- For best results, stick to a 1:12, coffee to water, ratio.
- Give the mixture a gentle stir, place the lid on, and let the coffee steep for four minutes.
- Have a timer nearby, because, for the ultimate taste, you don’t want to pass the 4-minute mark.
- Press the plunger down and serve immediately. Enjoy!
The Aeropress offers a clean cup of coffee thanks to its strict paper filter that doesn’t let a lot of sedimentation or oils pass it if it at all.
This kind of flavor clarity can be fantastic if you are into experimenting with different types of beans, grind sizes, water temperatures, or other parameters. Differences in brewing methods, even mild, will be noticeable due to the clear taste profile that the Aeropress creates.
French Press Flavors
The French Press, on the other hand, as an older brewing process, does not produce a “clean cup”, but rather delivers a full-bodied cup of coffee with some sedimentation and many of the oils extracted from the coffee grounds.
This flavor profile is perfect for everyone who prefers a strong, strong coffee or a classic dark roast. The downside is that the mouthfeel and body can cloud the more subtle flavors.
Aeropress Filtering techniques
An AeroPress device is designed to be used with paper filters, although you can order a metal filter from a third-party supplier. Remember to always rinse the filter with hot water to remove any chemical aftertaste. The use of paper filters enables gentle cleaning, but unfortunately, the filters also retain some of the coffee oils, so the taste is lost.
French Press Filtering techniques
On the other hand, French press devices use stainless steel mesh filters that allow both the oils and the finest coffee grounds in your brew. This creates a full-bodied brew, although a bit muddy because of the coffee sediments.
So there are pros and cons to each filtering method.
As far as costs are concerned, in most cases, your AeroPress device will come with 350 filters so you won’t have to order new ones for a long time.
Aeropress Pros & Cons
French Press Pros & Cons
Which One Is Better?
For many people, coffee-making isn’t something to be rushed, and part of the enjoyment comes from the making ritual itself. When it comes to which method is “better,” we must say that it really comes down to you as the maker.
If speed isn’t an issue and you prefer a richer cup of coffee and cupboard space is at a premium, we anoint thou a French Press drinker.
If you’re a solo coffee drinker who likes a shorter brew time and a cleaner (in taste and clear-up) java experience, you’re going to get the best experience with an AeroPress. The perfect brewing device is the one that suits your palette. If you’re happy with both taste preferences, we think these products are easy enough on the bank account to invest in both (don’t forget the grinder).
To Sum Up
Both AeroPress and French Press are good for their job of delivering strong coffee in a short time and at a very affordable price. The final choice will depend on what type of person you are.
Making coffee is not easier than adding hot water and coffee grounds and pressing the plunger. Of course, AeroPress is very suitable for travel, which is a huge advantage over French Press.
French press is the best choice for families who need instant coffee at the same time, don’t forget that this is the perfect device for cold brew. If you haven’t tried Cold Brew, maybe you should try it because it tastes great and many people say it is healthier than coffee brewed with hot water. Happy choice!